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Super Outbreak Part Deux

In 1974, a super out break of tornadoes occurred producing 130 tornadoes in a 24 hour period. The outbreak killed 319 people. That was the largest US outbreak until 2011.

From April 25-28 a whopping 360 tornadoes roared across the south, midwest and Ohio Valley. The worst day was April 27, when 216 tornadoes touched down, with 4 of them being EF5.

The death toll from the 2011 outbreak was 348, with 316 occurring on the 27th of April. Alabama, the worst hit state has 238 deaths. Damage was $10.2 billion, which would have been $12 billion in 2021. These numbers are eye popping for a tornado outbreak.


Cordova , Alabama was hit by an EF3 tornado during the morning of April 27, then hit AGAIN by an EF4 that afternoon!


The deadliest tornado of the outbreak was an EF5 that completely devastated the towns of Hackleburg, Phil Campbell, Mount Hope, Tanner, and Harvest, killing 72 people. This marks only the second day in history (after April 3, 1974) that there were more than two F5/EF5 tornadoes reported.


Another very destructive twister hit Tuscaloosa, AL then hit the northern suburbs of Birmingham. This tornado killed 64 people and caused extreme damage in heavily populated areas.

Many many other areas were hit hard in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. Widespread death and destruction was the result.


As bad as it was, the death toll could have been worse. The Storm Prediction Center put out a HIGH risk of severe weather and tornadoes for the areas for 2 days in a row. Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) tornado watches were issued. Hundreds of tornado warnings, and many many tornado emergencies were issued. Many of the warnings and emergencies were issued well before some areas were hit, allowing people to get to shelter.


This was a very well forecasted outbreak, and the number of deaths could have been considerably higher if not for local TV stations having wall to wall coverage of tornadoes and live footage of tornadoes roaring through their areas. People actually got to "see" what was headed for them...many probably saying, "nope".


One of the main goals of the NWS is to save lives and they certainly did that day along with the help of local TV and news.

Chances are another super outbreak will happen again in our lives and when we do let's hope out technological advances can help save even more lives.


Thanks again for reading! Have a fantastic week!

Article published on April 24, 2023 by Greg Dixon

HLEW Weather Rewind



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